Ever since its establishment, environmental protection has been at the core of the work of the Arctic Council. In the Council’s founding document, the Ottawa Declaration, the eight Arctic States affirmed their commitment to protect the Arctic environment and healthy ecosystems, to maintain Arctic biodiversity, to conserve and enable sustainable use of natural resources. This commitment is underscored in the extensive scientific work of the Arctic Council’s six Working Groups and was reaffirmed at the 11th Ministerial meeting in May 2019 in Rovaniemi, Finland, where the Foreign Ministers of all eight Arctic States signed the Rovaniemi Joint Ministerial Statement 2019 and approved the Senior Arctic Officials’ Report to Ministers.

As temperatures in the Arctic continue to rise at more than twice the global annual average, effects are felt both across the high latitudes and beyond – with environmental, economic and social implications. Acknowledging the scope of the issues, the Working Groups commit to working closely together on environmental matters such as the effects of climate change, marine litter and microplastics, adaptation and resilience, and the protection of biodiversity and sustainable use of living resources.

The Council also builds on the work and recommendations of its Expert Group on Black Carbon and Methane, and further efforts are envisioned to identify opportunities to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and short-lived climate pollutants.

Across all these efforts, close cooperation with the six indigenous peoples’ organizations that are Permanent Participants to the Council is indispensable. In addition, the Council’s Observers are, at all times, engaged in several Working Group projects, contributing both knowledge and best practices.


To learn more about how the Icelandic Chairmanship (2019-2021) addresses matters related to environment and climate, read the Chairmanship program.


Examples of ongoing projects:

Explore latest reports and assessments:

Overview of additional recent reports, key assessments and fact sheets